Absolute Jesus

In our current societal range, those who hunt for truth usually come back to the lodge with an empty rack. Emoticons and experiential propositions rule the day. “I feel” and “I think” are the royal guideposts that overlook “I know” and “It is”.  When one dares to speak in absolute terms they are inevitably called opinionated and arrogant or just plain out of touch. They are branded as intolerance purveyors and relegated to the old school cage. The problem for believers, however, is that the gospel itself is an absolute and Christ is completely exclusive.

There is no negotiating with the Word of Reconciliation. There is no deal making at a back room conference table.  He is THE way, THE truth and THE life and no one comes to the Father but through Him. (John 14:6)  This is a non-negotiable fact straight from the mouth of God Himself; Christ is not a “life choice that works for me”.  By the prerogative of His unstoppable grace, God seeks His own (John 10:27-28). By faith alone, they believe and trust in the completed work of Christ for His sheep hear His voice and they follow him.  There is no alternative plan. There is no broad road. There is only a narrow gate. (Matt. 7:13-14)

Some would like to believe that perhaps zeal and passion can circumvent this singular faith and its object, but deep devotion and unwavering sincerity to the wrong cause only ensure error, destruction and condemnation. Fixate on truth, not fiction.  No matter how zealous you are, if your sincere commitment is to a lie, you will be responsible for your misplaced trust.  If your Jesus is not the Christ of Scripture, you are believing in and following the wrong One.

“He is so devout” means nothing if that devotion is to a different Jesus or to no-Jesus at all. Remember who it is that you claim to worship.  Seek Him and you shall be saved.

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On the Self-professed Claim of Defection by Anne Rice

And so we have it, Anne Rice has left the building.  She announced recently to the world that she is done with Christianity but still  ‘committed to Christ’.

I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being ‘Christian’ or to being part of Christianity. It’s simply impossible for me to ‘belong’ to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen

Ms. Rice’s comments ring with an interesting commentary, but unfortunately she is  off kilter. You cannot be committed to Christ and reject Scripture. You cannot be committed to Christ and be pro-homosexual for the Word is clear that God created the woman for the man and using our body parts for unintended purposes is an insult to our Creator.  (1 Cor. 6:9; Romans 1:22-27) You cannot be committed to Christ and be pro-feminism for God has made each gender with a designated function and purpose which is unrelated to debates of worth and value. Men are men and women are women and we are different by design. You cannot upturn the rank, role and responsibilities  of mankind and still claim Christ.

You cannot be committed to Christ and be a secular humanist for to put man above God is to exalt idolatry over proper worship.  See the first commandment – and that restriction includes making men gods.   It is also the case that you do not have to be a Republican to be a believer, nor do you have to divorce your brain at the door. You do not have reject science for pure and right science supports all the God has said.  Only conjecture-driven, pseudo-science opposes the Word of God.

All that being said, I will admit that some of her comments ring loudly with a smattering of truth. Rejecting a quarrelsome and hostile group is a good thing. In fact, remember the words of Paul when he said that “the Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses and escape from the snare of the devil, having been held captive by him to do his will.” (2Timothy 2:24-26)  We should avoid those pitfalls, yet that does not mean we reject the church or Christianity for the true followers of Christ concur with all that Scripture teaches.

She continued in her internet posting with another commentary –

My faith in Christ is central to my life. My conversion from a pessimistic atheist lost in a world I didn’t understand, to an optimistic believer in a universe created and sustained by a loving God is crucial to me. But following Christ does not mean following His followers. Christ is infinitely more important than Christianity and always will be, no matter what Christianity is, has been, or might become.

Here is another definitional problem whereby Ms. Rice has confused true biblical love with worldly sentimentalism and emotion.  To her, God is a tolerant Lord who accepts everyone and who is the epitome of a hippie-Jesus love affair god with no sense of justice, holiness or truth.  While it is true that God is love, He is also a jealous fire and a God of wrath who will utterly destroy all those who continue in their sins and transgressions.

So Ms. Rice has left what she was really never a part of to begin with as John tells us, “They went out from us, but they were not really of us; for if they had been of us, they would have remained with us; but they went out, in order that it might be shown that they all are not of us.” (1John 2:19)  She defected from a false religion of her own device and has in the process embraced even more error.  Pray that the Lord opens her heart to see Him clearly.

On Modest Clothing

Modesty is a hot topic with believers especially in a day of hoochie-momma skirts and push-up bras, and given the uprising of ghetto-culture, let us not forget the baggy pants craze where young men somehow find it cool and happening to expose their underwear by wearing pants that don’t fit and going shirtless with tats and chains.

I’ve been shopping with my four daughters and there is no doubt that pursuing modest clothing for young girls is way more difficult than teaching a boy to wear a belt and keep his shirt on.  My daughters have come home many times quite discouraged that the only offerings in the stores for them seemed well fit for Britney Cyrus Gaga than for them.

As a result of having to make apparel decisions for and with them, I have come up with three principles that we use in making modest clothing choices. Here they are:

  1. To the degree that what you wear exposes your skin to the public eye, is to the degree that you are immodest.
  2. To the degree that what you wear fits tightly around your body accentuating your figure, is to the degree that you are immodest.
  3. To the degree that what you wear draws attention to and emphasizes your female body traits, is to the degree that you are immodest.

Notice the key word here is ‘degree’,  since I believe that hard and distinct lines are not always easy to draw in these areas and I would rather my girls learn discernment and proper decision-making in this area of their lives instead of simply following a ‘dad approved’ list.

Applying these guidelines – short pants five inches above the knee are more immodest than shorts that go past the knees and shorts that go past the knees that are baggy are more modest if they are not skin tight or have some crazy logo branded on the buttocks.

I think this approach is unarguably sensible and easy to follow though we might not all end up with the same clothes.

See Him

If you’re reading this and feeling low, remember who is forever High. When you see yourself in iniquity’s mire and your heart is captured by this weak and weary world, remember the One who has overcome this life.  Never forget you are defined by Christ and His righteousness and not by a meritorious deeds stick.

If you’re reading this and feeling high, remember who was perfectly Low. When you see yourself in pride’s grip and your heart is captured by fame’s vainglory fantasy, remember the One who is the only one worthy of great position.  Never forget you are not the centerpiece for the Lord Jesus is our only peace.

If you’re reading this and feeling down, remember who could never be kept in the grave. When you contemplate that final breath at the edge of your days, remember that Christ has risen and so, too, will you for if you have died with Him you shall live with him forever.

If you’re reading this and feeling trampled by life, remember who suffered under the world’s hands.  When you see yourself as a victim, remember the One who was the only innocent One. Our vindication comes when He comes again as mercy and death is metered out perfectly before the throne.

If you’re reading this and understand the Words of Life then join me now in praying for all of those who will read this and don’t. May the Lord open their hearts and their give them eyes to see. Amen.

A Prayer for Pulpits

I’d like to call all believers to pray for a simple request – that the Word of God be preached clearly and precisely in our churches.

Pray that those men whom the Lord has entrusted with the privilege, duty and honor of preaching the Word of God on a weekly basis, will actually do just that.

Pray that the lure of personal story and staged humor will be replaced with a desire for pure milk and solid meat.

Pray that proof texting to prove a predetermined point will be substituted with carefully derived truth.

Pray that sermons will come from dedicated effort in exegetical study done to the glory of God and not from psycho-pop drivel and mystic self-help manuals.

Pray that pulpit words will be fueled by the Holy Spirit and derived from what God has said and not from what they wish God would say.

Pray for the dismantling of tradition-blinders when it becomes an affront to hard and simple biblical truths.

Pray for the heralding of Christ as a real savior who really does rescue sinners from hell without fail.

Pray that pastors are not afraid to say the H-word.  Pray for their courage. Pray for their humility. Pray for wisdom. Pray for your hearing.

May your weekly church gathering be filled with the power of the Trinity through the purposed preaching of the Scriptures.  Amen.

Dearborn Debacle

Apologists from Acts 17, David Wood and Nabeel Qureshi were arrested in Dearborn, MI at an Arab Festival for allegedly inciting a riot and disturbing the peace. They were escorted off the grounds of the event and then summarily had their video cameras taken from them. Now, the video is here after being returned.

Does this look like a riot to you? Confusion? Swelling crowds?

While we certainly must reserve final judgment until having all the facts, one thing from this video of the arrest is clear – there will be much legal action against this clear violation of basic civil rights. Welcome to the new Amerika Comardes.  Pray for these men. Pray for justice. Pray for our land.

Pressing On

I haven’t written on this page in quite some time. For a little bit over a year now I have been readjusting my entire life’s routine around the infiltration of chronic illness. As I’ve mentioned in other posts, my wife has an autoimmune disease (polymyositis) that has sent familial shockwaves throughout our household.  The task of coping has been sketchy as schedules and everyday habits have had to change and uncertainty stares at us like a puzzled thief waiting for the next opportunity.

However, as only God can do, beyond the stressful change has come goodness. Through her misery as I watch my wife struggle, I see my own limitations and flaws and absolute need for His grace and divine strength. Sometimes I feel like I’m being beaten with a disappointment stick. Sometimes I can’t believe that yet one more thing has gone wrong. Sometimes I can’t believe that my life is what it is when this is not what I had planned. Not even close. Sometimes I want out.

But it is here in the recess between my own wisdom and the One who made me, where humility is bred.  He alone knows what is best and without the challenges set before me, I will always come back to a wrong position.  The pride of life is a vicious weed and we can’t always trust our feelings.  As Luther wrote, “Feelings come and feelings go, but feelings are deceiving… my warrant is the Word of God, naught else is worth believing.”

So, I will pray and I will believe, but not because I always believe and not because I always obey or rest in His understanding.  I will live by faith because there is no other option.  Faith is a gift that overrides our sinful desires to ignore it.  He intercedes for me and He sustains me in spite of my empty tank for as the Word of God reveals, “If we are faithless, He remains faithful, for He cannot deny Himself” and in hope we have been saved, but hope that is seen is not hope; for who hopes for what he already sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, with perseverance we wait eagerly for it.  In the same way the Spirit also helps our weakness; for we do not know how to pray as we should, but the Spirit Himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words;  and He who searches the hearts knows what the mind of the Spirit is, because He intercedes for the saints according to the will of God.” ( 2 Timothy 2:13; Romans 8:24-27) Amen.

Heaven is our final place

Heaven is God’s abode and those who endure to the end will be with their Creator, Savior and Friend forever, continually basking in perfected glory. Those who, by faith, completely trust in the completed works of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of their sins will be made whole. There will be no more need of the sun or stars or moon for Christ will illuminate each moment. Day and night will cease and all tears shall be gone, evil erased and punished and this present life forgotten.  Nothing will remain as it is for Christ will make all things new. (Revelation 21:5)  God’s elect sin no more and the Israel of God will sing songs of beauty and praise in harmony with angelic choruses.

The scene of heaven given to us from Scripture is both brilliant and vague as John’s visions at Patmos were recorded mostly as similes. We are told of the erasure of the old and the inauguration of the new; each symbol referencing capstone completions of Old Testament prophetic visions. These symbols in motion point us to the victory of the Lamb of God over sin and death and the final security of each member of the New Covenant.

Like most biblical truths, our heavenly estate is frequently misrepresented. More people seem to find their theology in jokes and bubble gum wrappers than they do from the Word of God. For example, no where in Scripture are angels ever described as anything but male yet buttons, medals, plagues and other supposed depictions present them constantly as female beings or chubby little babies.  The same type of fiction is true for heaven.

The truth of the matter is that there is much talk about heaven in the bible, but those discussions are described to us through intense symbolism.  One must first know the Old Testament well before they dare dip their sensibilities into John’s final bookend epistle lest they end up in a deep vat of fantasy and false presumption.  Another added dimension is the complete disconnect between this life and the next, the finite and the infinite, material to immaterial. Our entire earthly construct including our language and cognition is wrapped and forged through a sin-cursed veil.  We cannot understand this side of glory what awaits us in a perfected state.

As Paul wrote to the Corinthians, “…EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN, ALL THAT GOD HAS PREPARED FOR THOSE WHO LOVE HIM.” 1Co 2:9

What we do know is that we will be in a “place of utter felicity that is filled with the radiant majesty and glory of God.[1] Justice will have been rendered and His people will have been vindicated. All blasphemy and mockery and deceit and danger is gone. There will be no more sickness, hatred or anxiety.  The curse of sin has been reversed. Isn’t that enough for us?


[1] R.C. Sproul, “Now, That’s a Good Question!”, p. 285

The Goodness of Victory

The Who Dat buzz is still humming, albeit a bit softer now. Mardi Gras has ended and the French Quarter vibe is a little slower, but we can rest assured that even though the celebrating is diminished, it is not over.

Several of us in our fellowship along with thousands of other eager fans attended the historic Saints Superbowl Victory parade in the city to relish in a long-awaited and significant triumph. Marching bands, brightly lit floats and wall to wall black and gold shirts filled the sidewalks and curbs and barricades held in the masses of onlookers as the team’s players and coaches rolled out from the Dome to the Convention Center. We finally did it.

In the chill of a uniquely-frigid February evening the city forgot her woes and the sounds of jubilation rang out from every street.  It was a bit surreal, not only because of the incredible ending to a miraculous Saints football season, but because of a special unity weaving throughout every social class. It’s as if each person has grabbed on to the hope found in victory and the struggle it takes to achieve it.  Even non-football fanatics, like me, are showing up and buying hats and shirts and stickers to join in the first-of-a-lifetime fun; chanting and singing and sitting on our car horns.

Interestingly, concurrent with the feasting and celebrating has been the criticism – criticism of making a big deal out of ‘just a game’ and criticism by believers of making an idol of sports. To the former point, those who claim that our merrymaking is overboard are simply speaking from a foreign hill. They are making observations from a remote tower looking down on something they just don’t understand. The Saints incredible season is a live and direct Rocky and Rudy storyline being acted out before our eyes except that these main characters are not acting. This is not a production based on a true story. This IS the true story – one of sacrifice, regional pride, love for the underdogs, hope amidst trial and devastation, courage, dedication and support. Every final victory you have ever been excited about in any and every story, play or film grew and blossomed for us right before our eyes. This is about a life-long dream finally appearing; why wouldn’t we be feasting?

To the latter point of idolatry, one must back up a few feet.  Sure the country is obsessed about many things including sports and sure many in the midst of this Saints ‘madness’ are overly-consumed by professional and collegiate athletics all year long, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that any and everyone who loves competition and victory is making it their god.  It is the same fallacious argument as saying that if one drinks wine then they are a drunkard. Christ Himself had to deal with the same false accusations when they labeled him a winebibber and a glutton. (Matthew 11:19)

I pray that we recognize that God’s goodness extends to many things both earthly and eternal. Our NFL success is not salvation, but we must be careful not to miss the opportunity to praise Him in all things and that includes great victories.

Purifying Grace

I got sideswiped. I was hit by a collision so violent that it weakened the walls of my lower intestines, but it wasn’t an impact by a drunken driver or a distracted teenager trying to find their last text message while taking a left turn. Instead, it was the unpredictable juggernaut called life.

It’s the ninth month of adjusting our family to life with chronic illness and the Lord has once again shown us lessons only learned while on the grill. Heat alone refines.

The news of my wife’s chronic auto-immune disease and skin cancer troubles felt like tires bending and my fender buckling, but I couldn’t quite identify the noise. A sudden sense of tremendous weight grinds into every pore of your skeleton. It’s a pressure melded with fearful gravity and so much heaviness that its true impact takes weeks and months to set in, and yet on the other side of the blistering flames, vise grips and frightful walls we find greater compassion. Genuine empathy is an acquired virtue and its classes are held in the pit.

When true saving faith meets adversity it produces persevering joy just as God said it would in James 1:2-4, “Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.

It isn’t that the trials themselves are joyful; they are always loaded with confusion and pain. What we must see is that the end result is our purification and the difficulties and overwhelming circumstances are the means that God has sovereignly orchestrated for the development of Christ-likeness in us. You won’t become like Christ while riding a comfort wave on a golden surfboard. Anyone who tells you that God doesn’t want His servants to suffer has a misplaced gospel and a closed bible. You only grow in your faith when you actually have to use it for as Scripture plainly teaches us we shall enter the kingdom through many tribulations. (Acts 14:22)

Suffering exposes our weaknesses and dispels the myth of self-reliance. We need our church family and local Body to bear our burdens with us. (Gal. 6:2) We need more times of communal weeping.  In our moments of great despondence the light of faithful friends carrying the Savior’s voice becomes a tender balm to a weary soul.

Have you spoken the wonderful Words of Life to your brothers and sisters lately? Who around you needs you right now? Let us not forget our own family of God and remember that it is not a part-time commitment. We are familial forever.